Virginia Biographies published 1907 – Richard Duncan Apperson (second cousin of JSA) (copy found in University of Virginia Library – 1999)

Richard Duncan Apperson

Apperson, Richard Duncan, president and general manager of the Lynchburg Traction and Light Company; president of the Petersburg Gas Company of Petersburg, Virginia; president of the Lynchburg Water power Company; president of the Roanoke Railway and Electric Company of Roanoke, Virginia; president of the Montgomery Traction Company of Montgomery, Alabama; residing at Lynchburg, Campbell County, Virginia, was born at Mount Sterling, Montgomery County, Kentucky, on the 26th of August, 1863.

His father, Richard Apperson, was a judge of the circuit court; a member of the Kentucky state convention in 1850; twice elected to the state legislature; assisted in organizing and building and was president of the Lexington and Big Sandy railroad; was a personal friend of Abraham Lincoln, and in 1860 assisted in organizing the Home Guard in Kentucky and served as United State Commissioner in 1861 and 1862, and as Collector of Internal Revenue in 1862. He is remembered as having been especially helpful top young men who were making their way, assisting several law students through the years of their preliminary study; hospitable to all, and deeply religious. As a boy of fifteen he left New Kent County, Virginia (the home of his father, Edmund Apperson, who was of Welsh descent. With the horse, which he rode, and a colored boy as his sole possession, he made his way to Madison County, Kentucky, where he took a position as clerk in a dry goods store and taught school while he read law. He was married to Miss Mary Jarman of that county before he was twenty-one. Later he removed to Montgomery County, Kentucky, where he spent the rest of his life, dying in 1863. Richard Duncan Apperson is the son of his second wife, Margaret Izora Marshall, a relative of Chief Justice Marshall of Virginia.

In his boyhood he was vigorous, and he has always known excellent health. As a boy he was exceptionally fond of investigating all mechanical devices and of looking into the construction of things. His father died in the year of his birth, and he owes much to the guidance and instruction of his mother; and from early boyhood he delighted in making for himself such duties and tasks as he thought would assist her. He writes, “I was always fond of work where I could see results.” He was in the public schools for a time, and for a time studied under a private tutor; but necessity compelled him to work for his own support when he was but twelve years old. The first book that impressed him in his childhood was one entitled, “Jack the Conqueror, or Difficulties Overcome” – the record of an English orphan boy who won success by honesty and energetic activity. He writes, “I started in life without any cash capital. My only asset was honesty, energy and the determination to succeed.”

His first position as a boy of twelve was in the office of the Pullman Palace Car Company at New Orleans. He was then placed in charge of the Little Rock street car system, without any previous experience in connection with street car management. On receiving the appointment, he wrote to the president stating that he greatly hesitated to accept because of his total lack of experience. The president answered, “If I have the confidence to place you in the position, you should have enough confidence in yourself to handle it.” This confidence on the part of the president determined young Apperson to make a success of the work; and he did. He has been engaged in manufacturing, in railroading, and in the organization and management of electric works and gas works. He was with the Pullman Car Company, in 1875; with the Bell Telephone Company of Missouri, at Kansas City, from 1879 to 1881 as operator and manager of the central office; with the Little Rock Oil and Compress Car Company of Little Rock, Arkansas, promoted to the office of superintendent in 1887; and he acted as cashier of the Little Rock Street Railway Company and Citizens Street Railway Company, until he became Superintendent as well as Cashier in the same year. In 1890, when the Little Rock properties were sold, he declined the superintendency under the new ownership and became engineer and general manager to construct a street electric railway at Staunton, Virginia, for a New York banking firm. In 1898 he constructed and supervised the operation of a gas plant at Staunton in addition to the Street Railway and Electric System; and he remained in this position until June 1901.

In 1900, he became President and part owner of the Lynchburg Gas Company; in the Spring of 1901 he and his associates purchased the Lynchburg Electric Railway and Light Company and the Lynchburg and Rivermont Street Railway Company and consolidated the three companies into the Lynchburg Traction and Light Company, of which Mr. Apperson was at once elected president and general manager, positions which he still retains in 1907. In March 1901, he purchased for himself and his associates the Petersburg Gas Company at Petersburg, Virginia, and was at one elected president, still retaining that position. In 1902 he was chose president of the Lynchburg Water Power Company, continuing still in that office. In January 1903, with his associates, he purchases the Roanoke Railway and Electric Company, of Roanoke, Virginia, and was elected president, still retaining that position. In 1905 he purchased for himself and his associates the Montgomery Traction Company of Montgomery, Alabama, becoming president of that company.

In 1897, Mr. Apperson organized the Virginia Street Railway and Electric Association, including most of the street railway and electric interests of the state; and he was chosen president of the association.

On the 7th of September 1886, he married Miss Lola Garrett, daughter of James Alfred Garrett of Lexington, Kentucky. They have had three children, all of whom are living in 1907.

Mr. Apperson is connected with the Protestant Episcopal Church. In his political relations he is a democrat. He is a member of the Southern Club of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; of the Piedmont Club of Lynchburg; and the Shenandoah Club of Roanoke, Virginia.

He has always advocated and enjoyed out-of-doors sports; and he has found his favorite forms of exercise and amusement in hunting, fishing and driving an automobile.

The record of one who has made his way so steadily to executive management and leadership in the enterprises with which he is connected, should serve as an incentive and encouragement to every Virginia boy who is dependent upon his own resources. It is worthwhile for such young Virginians to give especial attention to the advice which Mr. Apperson offers to them in these words; “A young man should be straightforward, truthful and not afraid to take hold and do anything needed; he must not feel that because he is employed as a clerk or a bookkeeper, or in any other such position, he should not help in any other capacity when he sees that such help will be of benefit to his employer. He should always try to anticipate what the success of the business calls for, and should not wait to be directed to do this or that thing. He should always be looking for something to do that will benefit his employer and the business. In this way he makes himself so much a part of the business that it can hardly be conducted without him.”